Despite President Donald Trump’s efforts to bring back coal, his administration is still supporting renewable power — specifically with more than $100 million in grants to support advancements of solar technologies and workforce.
Fifty-three innovative solar research projects aimed at lowering electricity costs will receive up to $53 million in federal funding, the Department of Energy announced Oct. 23.
“Innovation is key to solar’s continued growth in our nation’s energy portfolio. It increases our energy diversity and reinforces our ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said in the funding announcement.
The awards will advance research and development in photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP), according to the department’s statement. The projects selected span 21 states and the District of Columbia and include PV research to improve grid resiliency in Puerto Rico.
Thirty-one photovoltaics research and development projects were awarded $27.7 million for early-stage research to advance new PV materials including perovskites, which can be painted on a surface to generate electricity.
Another 15 CSP research and development projects will receive $12.4 million to develop materials and designs for collectors, power cycles and thermal transport systems that can withstand temperatures greater than 700 °C while being corrosion-resistant. Seven projects will receive $12.7 million to support training and curriculum development at community colleges including advanced training more digital electric power systems.
Earlier in October, the department announced up to $46 million in funding for 10 projects to improve resiliency of solar generation including development and validation of control strategies, real-time system monitoring, communications and other technologies. Such technologies can strengthen the grid’s ability to withstand cyber threats and natural disasters, DOE said in a statement.
Separately, in September, the department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory selected five organizations to facilitate and grow the American-Made Solar Prize, a $3 million competition designed to revitalize U.S. solar manufacturing.
Alex Hobson, a spokeswoman for the Solar Energy Industries Association says “this funding will help our industry continue to grow, innovate and drive down costs for consumers. More than 250,000 people are working in solar in the U.S. today, and these initiatives help create more of those well-paying jobs and bring low-cost electricity to Americans across the country,” he added. “As solar becomes a major part of America’s energy portfolio, we hope support like this continues.”